One of the factors that transformed my life in Belfast was discovering the Belfast Community Circus School. Before I knew of its existence, I was isolated, lonely and extremely unhappy in Belfast. I had no friends, no social group, nothing to look forward to each week. The first time I went to the circus school was on a Wednesday night, to the adult circus class. From the minute I stepped inside the door of the school, I felt at home. I tried trapeze that night, and when I found out that there was still space in the beginners aerial class, I immediately signed up for that too.
More than 2 years later I have performed a solo act twice, and performed in 2 different group pieces. Learning circus skills is never ending, there’s always a new move to learn, old moves to perfect, routines to put together, and working as a group provides different challenges again – timing, mutual trust and coordination. Training at the circus school has been a lesson in how the best teams work.
Last night we had an adult circus cabaret. I overheard one of the tutors, who was there to help out, saying that each circus show proves that you don’t need a million dollar budget to have a great team. Everyone at the circus school helps out at all the event – setting up, providing prizes for the tombola, selling tickets, helping out backstage and cleaning up at the end of the night. All of the shows are always a great success – because we work together like a family.
The circus school has quite literally transformed my life. It was the first place that I came out as non-binary transgender, it was the only place where I could go when I was severely depressed, and it has helped me during difficult times by keeping me focused on getting fitter and healthier. Most importantly, the circus school has provided me with a community of like-minded people who have made me feel like I belong. The people there befriended me and helped me to feel less lonely, and ultimately have become some of my best friends in Belfast now.
From being utterly miserable, the circus school turned my life around and has given me a reason to stay in Belfast. I’ve always felt like an outsider, but at the circus school I feel like I’ve come home.